THE HARD WAY - 21 November 2013
Sunrise Mountain Wave Clouds - Tehachapi, California
Karlene and I shared a couple observations when I sent in an article a few weeks ago. I told her how impressed I am with her crazy schedule, the many irons she has in the fire, and the recent "watch" she had over her husband while he was in the hospital. I know lots of people, myself included, might've cried, "Uncle!" if we had half her list of things to do. Our discussion traveled quickly from what comforts us in trying times to a quote I found by noted polar explorer Ben Saunders:
"Inspiration and growth only come from adversity and from challenge - from stepping away from what's comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown."
That is so true. What I found from my own experiences is that the path that takes me to the most satisfying events in my life is most likely the one colored with the most challenge. If you are a seeking to accomplish significant things, challenge is simply the cost of doing business. There's no free lunch, in other words. Unfortunately, in our "instant and constant satisfaction now" world, the harder path isn't easily embraced.
Since this is an aviation website, let's consider this: it's not easy becoming a pilot. If you're just starting your training, the economics of making a career as a commercial aviator could look foolish. The cost is so high and the risks are so great. If you get a little carried away with the facts, you might even convince yourself it's safer to stay in bed than risk wasting money on another cross-country flight. Doing a little math, you could estimate the total cost of earning all the hours required by a commercial operator. With tens of thousands of dollars staring at you at the beginning of your training, you might say to yourself, "How am I going to afford that and still put food on the table?"
This is a reasonable question, but people figure it out. Folks take the leap and start the journey all the time and eventually make their dreams come true. Ask Karlene. I'm sure she has story after story of people who took that first step into adversity and it all worked out. It's kind of miraculous how it happens.
What I promote is this perspective: don't be put off by the hard path before you've even started. In fact, that path might be the best one in the end. For one thing, assessing how hard something will be while sitting on your couch is terribly unreliable. In the end, that hard path is never as difficult as we fear, and life always seems to work out. When you're committed to something, life always seems to work for you. At least that's been my experience.
As Ben Saunders says, "inspiration and growth only come from adversity and from challenge...." While we aren't talking about something as epic as schlepping a sledge weighed with hundreds of kilos of food and equipment across the Arctic ice, there is opportunity in our everyday lives for inspiration and growth just by turning toward challenges instead of turning away. With each step on the epic journey, there's an opportunity to realize what's possible and expand our lives. How cool would that be - to discover there is more to our lives than we thought?
Is it possible to be inspired and grow while sitting in the comfort of your den eating bonbon's? I guess, but I don't see how. After all, how can you realize what more you can do unless you actually get out there and operate at the edge of your comfort zone?
How can these thoughts turn into everyday action? I think it's pretty simple. It's related to my article last week, "Our Experiences." The topic last week was about living a life colored with epic stories. To help us find those stories, to identify that path toward inspiration and growth, take the hard way. When given the choice between two directions, don't be afraid of the one that looks more difficult. That one will likely be the better choice.